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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
NEW YORK: Novel Treatment for Gonorrhea Acts Like a 'Live Vaccine,' Prevents Reinfection

Staff Writer

September 18, 2013

NEW YORK: STDs Aids Weekly Plus

Medical Xpress (09.18.2013) :: By Ellen Goldblum Researchers at startup biotech company TherapyX, Inc., have developed a new gonorrhea treatment that acts like a vaccine to prevent reinfection. According to Michael W. Russell, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology at the University at Buffalo (UB)—The State University of New York’s School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and colleagues, the gonorrhea infection was able to inhibit certain adaptive immune responses, which was part of the reason why individuals could be reinfected numerous times. Russell explained that the gonococcal infection controlled the immune system and elicited responses that the bacterium could fight and suppressed responses that it could not fight. Russell then thought that NanoCap, the anti-cancer therapy that his colleague Nejat K. Egilmez, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology at UB, had developed could help. NanoCap is a sustained release nanoparticle treatment using Interleukin (IL)-12 to stimulate an immune response against tumors that usually suppress immunity. The researchers used the NanoCap technology in the fight against gonorrhea. When they introduced IL-12 microspheres intravaginally in mice, the mice experienced a precise adaptive immune response by developing antibodies specific to the gonorrhea bacteria and clearing the infection in days. The researchers’ attempt to reinfect the mice a month later was unsuccessful, as the mice were able to resist reinfection. The researchers planned to investigate whether the immunity could last longer than a month in mice and to test the treatment in humans. TherapyX, Inc., cofounded by Egilmez, received a $300,000 small business grant to develop the technology to treat and prevent gonorrhea, and UB’s Office for Science Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach has filed for patent protection. The full report, “Enhancement of Adaptive Immunity to Neisseria gonorrhoeae by Local Intravaginal Administration of Microencapsulated Interleukin 12,” was published online in the Journal of Infectious Diseases (2013; doi: 10.1093/infdis/jit354).